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The differences between air purifiers and air scrubbers

7 min read
Insights Master air scrubber

Today we understand the importance of good quality air, and the problems air pollution can have on people’s health and wellbeing, better than ever before. Both air purifiers and air scrubbers offer effective ways to improve air quality – here we discuss which is more suitable in a variety of situations.

Good indoor air quality is something everyone benefits from – at home, in the office, on a construction site, everywhere. It is something we cannot live without, and keeping air clean and pure is crucial in keeping people safe from harm and enabling them to be as comfortable and productive as possible.

Why clean air is important to health as adults breath 11,000 litres of air per day - statistics infographic

But, there is so much that can negatively affect what we breathe in and out every day. Airborne viruses, dust atoms, pet dander, mould spores, cigarette smoke, smog – the list is extensive. And while each of these pollutants will cause their own unique problems for people in their vicinity, in general this means:

  • Greater risk of infection from airborne contaminants, such as COVID-19

  • Immediate health problems, including headaches, dizziness and fatigue

  • Aggravating long-term health conditions, such as allergies and asthma

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat

  • Affecting people’s focus, productivity and general happiness

For people working in places like construction sites, workshops or on water damage restoration projects, poor air quality can be especially risky, as metallic dust, wood dust, mould and more may have serious consequences if allowed to linger in the air.

With this in mind, having systems in place to clean the air of potentially harmful particles is beneficial for any environment. Both air purifiers and air scrubbers can fulfil this role. However, they are not interchangeable, and it is important to know which is best for your needs.

infographic showing how indoor air pollutants can be 5 times higher than outdoor - statistics for air purifiers and air scrubbers

What is an air purifier?

An air purifier is fairly self-explanatory – it cleans and purifies the air of viruses, bacteria, pollen and dust. These units force air through incredibly fine filters that capture and contain the overwhelming majority of particles in the air. Clean, fresh air is then returned to the area, improving the atmosphere for everyone present.

The most effective modern air purifiers utilise HEPA filters. These are incredibly effective at removing particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter from the air, making them exceptional in minimising the presence of many types of airborne viruses and bacteria.

For instance, Heylo’s HL 400 can offer up to five stages of filtration to ensure the most complete air purification in an area:

Stage 1

Pre-filters remove coarse particles over 5 micrometres in size, such as house dust, scales and pollen.

Stage 2

An effective formaldehyde filter with activated carbon cleans the air of unwanted odours, gases and substances.

Stage 3

The HEPA filter can filter out 99% of microscopic particles with a diameter of more than 20 nanometres, including bacterial mould, dust, allergens, and some viruses.

Stage 4

Sterilising UV light can kill a large number of airborne bacteria, most often used for air, surface and water disinfection.

Stage 5

Ionisers apply strong electric fields to charge individual air particles and thus increase the ion concentration in the room air.

When would you use an air purifier?

Air purifiers are most often used in domestic or commercial environments. This could be at home, or in a wide range of workplace settings – offices, schools, hospitals, fitness centres, banks, etc.

Essentially, this form of air cleaning unit is better suited to less heavy-duty settings, and for those who want to ensure that their air quality supports the health and comfort of occupants. This could include:

  • Reducing the presence of unwanted odours in gyms or leisure centres

  • Limiting the spread of viruses among co-workers, protecting their health and lowering absence rates

  • Protecting the wellbeing of students and teachers in classrooms, as well as improving concentration levels

  • Reducing the risk of allergic reactions at home due to dust particles, pet hair, pollen and more

What is an air scrubber?

An air scrubber removes a range of impurities from the air, including metallic and wooden particles, as well as bacteria, dust and other air pollutants.

These units often use negative ions, which attach themselves to both airborne and surface particles. As this makes these particles heavier, they become easier to clean and gather within the system.

Furthermore, like air purifiers, air scrubbers are also available with HEPA air filters, which allows them to filter incredibly small particles. For instance, Master’s MAS 13 units can be fitted with a HEPA H13 filter that can trap bacteria, viruses and more.

When would you use an air scrubber?

Due to being incredibly adept at targeting dust and mould spores, air scrubbers are conventionally used in construction work or for industrial applications.

During construction, different types of dust can enter the atmosphere that can place the health of those on site in jeopardy, including:

Types of construction dust that air scrubbers can clean on building sites - image and infographic

This dust can be particularly prominent during demolition works. If left unchecked, this dust can cause harm to workers, ranging from allergic reactions and eye irritation, to more dangerous diseases like silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Air scrubbers can greatly reduce the threat posed by these particles, and help ensure on-site workers benefit from healthy, fresh air at all times. As well as construction and industrial work, air scrubbers are also well-suited to carpenters, locksmiths, laundries and more.

What is the difference between air scrubbers and air purifiers?

At their core, air purifiers and air scrubbers perform the same role – they are designed to improve air quality and make areas safer and more comfortable for occupants. There is not necessarily any difference in performance, quality or running costs.

However, where they differ is in what situations they should be used. Air purifiers are most suitable for more domestic or commercial environments, as their primary aim is to eliminate the presence of airborne contaminants, household dust, pet dander, poor odours and more – pollutants you would encounter in any home or office.

Meanwhile, air scrubbers, due to their focus on larger particles, such as construction dust and mould spores, are the choice for anybody looking to improve the air quality on a construction site, industrial area or during a water damage restoration project.

Infographic showing best applications and environments for using air purifiers or air scrubbers

Is an air scrubber better than an air purifier?

So, as noted above, it is false to think that an air scrubber is better than an air purifier, or vice versa. It all depends on what industry you work in, and the pollutants that you must contend with on a daily basis.

Hopefully, this article has helped you make the correct choice for your situation, capable of delivering the clean, fresh air your employees and customers demand.

Choosing the right air cleaning solution for your needs

Good air quality should never be underappreciated. Whatever your circumstances, whether at home or at work, having access to capable air cleaning units is critical to protecting people’s health, comfort and overall wellbeing.

Across the Dantherm Group, we have decades of expertise developing air purifiers and air scrubbers that operate across a wide range of industries. We prioritise quality filters, strong air flows and low running costs to ensure customers get the most out of this technology.

Air purifiers or air scrubbers supplied by Dantherm Group to improve air quality in building and commercial spaces - infographic and product comparison

Furthermore, our far-reaching support network allows us to quickly provide spare parts, repairs and technical support to our customers, so your products stay in good shape.

For more information on the air cleaning solutions available at Master, Aerial and Heylo, get in touch using the contact form below.

Related products

Master MAS 13 – air scrubber
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The portable MAS 13 air scrubber removes particles and gases from your working area. Max. air flow: 1,300m³/h.

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Innovative air cleaner optionally with EPA E11 or HEPA H14 filter against viruses and germs.

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High-performance air purifier ideally suited for construction and general industry. Max. air flow: 1,600m³/h.

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